Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola and Emerald Coast are taking part in the state’s first postpartum wristband initiative. The new program involves giving a silver rubber wristband to mothers to voluntarily wear for up to a year postpartum. This would prioritize them as patients and spotlight their medical history in case they seek care through EMS, ERs or other medical sites.
“This campaign is all about empowering our postpartum patients to speak up when they feel like something is off, and ensuring that they’re heard,” said Niki Dey, Director of Women’s Services at Sacred Heart Pensacola. “For far too long, postpartum women have not been fully recognized for how unique they are as patients, and this is just the first step in a coordinated effort as we begin shifting that perception and approach to their medical care.”
During the postpartum period, women are particularly susceptible to complications involving sepsis, preeclampsia, postpartum depression and strokes. And adverse health concerns during postpartum are not uncommon either. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
• More than two-thirds (69%) of women reported experiencing at least one physical health problem since childbirth.
• One-fifth of women experience at least one problem of major severity after childbirth.
• The prevalence of major depressive symptoms is roughly 16% in women who are currently pregnant and 17% for those postpartum.
“In the first year after giving birth, women can have life-threatening health issues that they may attribute to the normal early stages of motherhood,” said Erica Bottom, Family Birth Place Manger at Sacred Heart Emerald Coast. “With this program, we want to educate women on warning signs and have them quickly identified when they seek medical care.”
According to the NIH, there is a need for increased support for postpartum women who sometimes don’t feel adequately supported. Additionally, the agency outlines that identifying each pregnant woman’s support needs and expectations plays a strong role in fully recovering from childbirth.
Other hospitals taking part in the effort include Baptist Hospital, HCA Florida West, Santa Rosa Medical Center and North Okaloosa Medical Center. In addition to the bands, Sacred Heart Pensacola will distribute a large magnet displaying warning signs of possible medical emergencies for postpartum women to keep in their homes.